31 Exciting Fitness Games Kids (& Adults) Will Love
Expert Reviewed By
Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS
Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.
Only 2 in 10 people get the recommended amount of exercise. Why? They are bored! Bust boredom and dreading fitness with these 31 exercise games for kids and adults you can’t miss. Move over routines and ruts! Bust boredom with one of these 31 exercise games for kids and adults to make movement fun again. “Ugh. I hate exercise.” #SaidManyAmericans. In fact, only2 in 10 peopleget at least 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise each week OR one hour and 15 minutes of vigorous-intensity activity (or a combination of both). (CDC, 2017) In the scheme of 168 hours in a week, 1-3 hours spent moving your body is pretty small. However…for some reason, many people don’t do it. Just like we know vegetables and water are good for us…but don’t eat greens or drink enough water, movement can work the same way. The answer to solve this problem? Get back to your primal roots.
Your body was made to move. Not exercise. It doesn’t know the difference in sprinting from a bear, or sprinting on a track. Dancing in Zumba, or dancing on the dance floor. Or squatting a heavy barbell 10 times, versus sitting down and standing back up with a heavy suit case. Your body only knows one way to function: Move. And when we look to our ancestors, and how we were designed to move, we don’t see gyms, treadmills or bootcamps. We see people who sprinted to hunt and play; walked to move from one place to the next; “gardened” and tilled soil—growing their own food; fished; hiked; lifted heavy stones and luggage—themselves; and occasionally danced, cartwheeled and did other fun expressions with their bodies. Movement was a way of life. Many kids are experts at this! They run, skip, hop, dance, play sports, run, play tag and other activities without overthinking whether they are breaking a sweat. While increased use of video games, screen time and YouTube certainly are challenging kids’ tolerance of activities and movement (with many spending upwards of 7 hours in front of a screen each day), when we encourage our kids (and ourselves) to use and move our bodies in a variety of ways through games and play…movement happens naturally. Enter: “Being Human.”
Being Human is all about getting back to how are bodies are intuitively and innately wired to move. Not exercise formally, but rather incorporate daily movement into our daily lives. It’s dancing, crawling, running or sprinting, jogging, walking, cartwheeling, hiking, getting in the dirt, and moving heavyish loads. Unfortunately, by the time middle school P.E. class or serious soccer practice rolls around, many times movement and exercise becomes a chore. Sure the games are fun, but as we are summoned to do suicide sprints, punishment pushups and burpees, we stop loving on movement. Until now. Here’s encouragement for yourself (and your kids) to value and view “exercise” as play. Play is way more fun after all and allows us to develop a healthy relationship with using their body for the long haul. Move and “exercise” for the fun and joy of it. Try one of these “play” tactics to spice things up for your exercise:
31 Enticing Exercise Games for Kids And Adults (Without Exercising)
1. Turn up the music and cry out: “Just Dance!” Get the kids in on a dance party. 2. Have the kids “be animals”–crab walks, bear walks, chicken walks, snake slithers (you name it) from one point to the next. If you’re a grown-up, try animal walking as a form of “warm up” for your fitness. Seriously serious. 3. Host a family or friend push up challenge. Every day for the 28 days (or 60 days, or however many days you decide, increase your push-up reps). 4. Go on a nature walk or hike. This is surely one of the best exercise games for kids and adults. 5. Make after-dinner family walks a routine. 6. Climb things–Rocks or a climbing or parkour gym. 7. Declare a “Pillow Fight!” or “Sock War!” Bring out the socks and play like dodgeball! 8. Kiai! Try your hand at martial arts, kickboxing or boxing. 9. Toss a Frisbee or trail walk in lieu of a coffee date. 10. Have a cleaning contest–to clean the house. Fastest one “wins” and gets to choose the healthy dinner meal. Or, time yourself to see how fast you can get it done. Try to beat it next time. 11. Play active video games (if you MUST at least make them interactive) 12. Create an obstacle course challenge on a playground. 13. Go on a bike ride. 14. Play kick-the-can or freeze tag. 15. Head or handstand contest. See how long you can hold it against a wall. 16. Reflect on what you loved to do as a kid. Sports. Outdoors. Social exercise games for kids. Challenge yourself to be a kid for a day—even on a playground. These exercise games for kids will wish to get involved. 17. Play Twister or active Simon Says (squats, pushups and lunges included). 18. Try something new. Sometimes just mixing it up can make all the difference in the world. A new CrossFit box, spin, a yoga or pilates class, weight or bootcamp circuit. Keep it fresh. 19. Rollerblading, roller skating or indoor sock skating. 20. Wheelbarrow races (challenge them to try to beat their own times). 21. Play the “Deck of Cards” game (each suit has a movement, for example: Hearts=Pushups, Spades=Squats, Clubs=Situps, Diamonds=Jumping Jacks). For each card they draw, their challenge is to complete the movement for the number of reps. Let Ace, Kings, Queens, Jacks and Jokers be something “special,” like: King=a sprint down and back, Queen=5 squat jumps, Aces=10 spiderman planks, Jokers=10 burpees). Take turns playing through it. 22. Play Fitness Jenga with friends or kids. Write a different fitness challenge (like plank for 30-seconds) on tiles and have them complete as they draw. 23. Garden or get in the dirt outside. 24. Go on a neighborhood or indoor scavenger hunt. 25. Make it a fun routine. Give your body and brain a break with a little movement, such as: 10-20 squats between homework or work “sets,” stretching in the straddle position while completing math homework or reading a book, 10 big arm hug swings when they wake up, night time yoga sun salutations before bed, mountain climbers or sprawls every 30-60 minutes while playing video games, pushups, squats or situps during TV commercials. Mix it up! 26. Get social. Join a community sports league or group fitness class. They promote exercise games for kids will like. 27. Save the BEST for Last. Your fave exercise in the gym—do it last. End on a high note. 28. Swing kettlebelles. 29. Hula hoop or jump rope it 30. Sneak it in. Take the stairs. Park far away from the door. Carry your own groceries. 31. Laugh. Alot. It works your core. It’s one of the best
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